Leeds Rhinos: Webb to go but Kylie’s staying

Brent Webb.
Brent Webb.
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Superman full-back Brent Webb is to leave Leeds Rhinos at the end of the season – but prop Kylie Leuluai has back-tracked on plans to retire.

The Yorkshire Evening Post understands Webb is set to join French Stobart Super League outfit Catalan Dragons for next season.

Leuluai, who announced last year that he would retire at the end of 2012, will play on after agreeing a one-year contract extension.

Both players joined Rhinos in 2007. Ex-Manly forward Leuluai is a four-time Grand Final winner, while Webb – signed from New Zealand Warriors – was a member of three championship sides, but missed the 2008 title decider through injury.

Webb is set to make his 150th start for Rhinos in Monday showdown with St Helens at Headingley Carnegie, but Leeds today confirmed he has been given permission to speak to other clubs after declining a one-year contract extension offer.

Webb said: “It was a very difficult decision to decide to move on from Leeds Rhinos at the end of the season, but as a professional player you know that eventually that day will come.

“I have had some fantastic times here in Leeds, in my family’s life and not just on the rugby field however I will take all those memories with me when I move on.

“I have only ever played for two clubs in my life but time moves on. We have got a big job here to do this season and my aim now is to play my part in helping the team achieve our goals for this season,” said Webb.

Leuluai, 34, leads the way this season for the Rhinos for average gains per carry.

He said he is enjoying his rugby as much as ever and admittted “circumstances have changed” since his initial decision to hang up his boots.

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “Having had discussions with Brent, we understand he is keen to try and secure a two-year contract in Super League for next season.

Permission

“We are not in a position to offer him that and therefore we have granted him permission to speak to other clubs about next season and beyond.

“Brent has been an outstanding player for Leeds Rhinos, one of the finest overseas players this club has ever had, and I am sure he will be doubly determined to finish his time at the club at the very top.

“He is a true competitor and regardless where he goes next season, he will always remain part of the Rhinos family.”

Of Leuluai, Hetherington said: “When Kylie signed his last contract his intention was to return home at the end of this season, but we always spoke about reviewing the situation nearer the time and seeing how his body was coping with the demands of Super League.

“He has been at the top of his game this season and we were pleased to speak to him and agree a new deal. Leeds fans have always loved their prop forwards, especially those who set the tone for the team with their actions on the field, and Kylie is certainly in that company.”

Meanwhile, Hetherington has backed the RFL’s decision to stage Rhinos’ Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan Warriors at Huddersfield’s Galpharm Stadium.

The match will be staged on Saturday, July 14, with a 5.30pm kick-off. Warrington Wolves will play Huddersfield Giants in the second semi-final the following afternoon at Salford’s new stadium.

Hetherington said: I’m very happy it’s going to be at Huddersfield. It will be the first time since I’ve been at the club that we’ve played Wigan in a semi-final. It’s a big game for Leeds and Wigan and the sport as a whole.

“We want it to attract a big crowd and Huddersfield is a good venue to do that.”

Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

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